To the Editor:
Sunday’s Voice of The Southern made a great point: with the first day of school fast approaching, Illinois must fund schools now so students aren’t left waiting at the bus stop while adults argue. However, their compromise — eliminating pension payments to Chicago — would mean Chicago would continue to play by a separate set of rules.
SB1 includes pension payments for Chicago because right now it is the only district that pays its own pensions. In fact, Chicago is taxed twice — once for its own pensions and again for the rest of Illinois. This bill brings Chicago into the same system as everyone else. Not only is it not a “bailout,” it actually ends special treatment from here on out.
One of the basic promises behind SB1 is that nobody would get less funding under the new system. To make good on that promise, everyone has to start where they were — even though we know the old system was broken. The changes Rauner calls for would make Chicago the only district in Illinois to lose money. That’s because if the pension payment is cut, Chicago would receive funding like everyone else, but still have to pay other costs nobody else does — leaving less for the classroom.
As a teacher, I know what classroom funding means for students, and I’m all for increasing funding in Southern Illinois. But I’m not willing to take it from other children who happen to live somewhere else. The governor should sign SB1 now to keep schools open and avoid another crisis.